As a Flyers fan, the best thing that could have happened when Frank Seravalli and I drafted two playoff teams of ex-Flyers last week was a low-scoring affair. No big games, no big goals, and the sooner they could all exit, the more comforting it could be.
Well this is your nightmare, folks. For as much as it was a relief to see James van Riemsdyk say goodbye to the postseason just as he seemed to be heating up, the gaudy numbers being posted by Mike Richards, Jeff Carter and even Patrick Sharp is an unnerving reminder of some moves gone sour, and of that long drought without a any Flyers names on a Stanley Cup.
After a 2-0 victory over the Sharks that boosted Frank's team by seven points in my highly rewarding system (Points and plus/minus), his lead over me is in double digits. (see below) But that's likely to change as the Blackhawks begin their series against Detroit tonight, or if Justin Williams would rejoin the party after a quick start.
JVR seemed like he was just starting to heat up as the Leafs rallied from a 3-1 deficit. But in a reflection perhaps of why he is now a Leaf and not a Flyer, he didn't spend much time on the ice during the third period Monday as the Leafs tried vainly to hold onto a two-goal lead.
That's not the case with Richards, who has become the Kings 24-hour man, a playmaking, shutdown force so far in this postseason. Similarly Patrick Sharp's gaudy numbers are a reflection not just of his scoring, but of his line's defensive prowess – and linemate Patrick Kane's increased willingness to hold the puck longer this season.
'I've always been proud of the fact that I can play in all situations,'' Sharp told the Chicago Sun-Times the other day. ``I broke into the league as a fourth-line player, as a penalty killer — that's something I take pride in.''
Sharp was of course part of the 2005 Calder Cup champion Phantoms team that added the more touted pair of Richards and Carter late in the season. Called and recalled during his time with the Flyers – he said he wore five different uniform numbers in 66 games with the team – Sharp was dealt to the Hawks for Matt Ellison later that year, then came back to haunt his old team with a monster Finals performance in 2010.
He had four goals and six points in the Finals, and true to his development as a two-way player, was a plus-7. Overall that year, he was second on the team in goals with 11, third in points with 22 and his plus-10 was second.
Five his final six goals tied or gave Chicago the lead in games, including tying Game 6 at 2-2. Yet true to his reputation as an overlooked player, he was not even mentioned as a Conn Smyth candidate.
He's up to his old tricks this postseason with five goals in the five-game defeat of the Minnesota Wild. Two of those goals were game-winners.
All three now have their names on a Stanley Cup, as does Williams, who won with Carolina and last year in Los Angeles. And it's not likely to improve. A lot can slip between the cup and the lip, but the Kings or the Blackhawks would likely be favored over the Penguins, Rangers or Bruins if that was the Final matchup this year.
Which one emerges will likely dictate whether Frank wins this thing, or I do. It will also present Flyers fans with choosing the lesser of two great evils: A hated rival, or what might have been.
Through games of Tuesday, May 15:
Jeff Carter, Kings 6 Patrick Sharp, Blackhawks 10
Mike Richards, Kings 11 Justin Williams, Kings 5
Jaromir Jagr, Bruins 3 Michal Handzus, Blackhawks 4
Bryan Bickell, Blackhawks 5 Arron Asham, Rangers 4
Joffrey Lupul, Leafs 3 Dennis Seidenberg, Bruins 1
Mark Eaton, Penguins 1 Darroll Powe, Rangers 0
Colin Fraser, Kings 2 Dan Carcillo, Blackhawks 1
James van Riemsdyk, Leafs 6 Tom Sestito, Canucks 0
Luca Sbisa, Ducks -2 John Carlson, Capitals -3